Alumni Interview: Waiora Te Moni

Waiora Te Moni attended Summer Conference 2020 and is currently in immersive study of te reo Māori. She lives in Te Moana-a-Toi (Tauranga) and worships at C3 City Church in Otumoetai. Here, Waiora shares some of her experience of study and life from this past year. Pictured above is Waiora with her family (L-R: Sean McGunniety (Brother in law/Autāne ), Hawaiki McGuinnety–on shoulders (Nephew/Irāmutu), Arihia McGuinniety (Older Sister/Tuakana), Waiora Te Moni, Tutemaungaroa Tāwaka (Brother/Tungāne whāngai), Retimana Te Moni (Dad/Pāpa). 


Tell us about yourself and let us know what these last few months have looked like

Ko Hikurangi te maunga
Ko Mātaatua te waka
Ko te Rangitaiki te awa
Ko Ngai Tūhoe te Iwi
Ko Ngati Haka te Hapū
Ko Waiohau te marae.

Tēnā rā tātou, ko Waiora tōku ingoa.

This year has been dedicated to the immersive study of te reo Māori. It has been, so far, a very rich journey, with all of the anticipated hardships of formal study and some wonderful unanticipated opportunities for growth.

It probably requires lengthy wānanga to unpack fully, but to summarise what I mean as best I can: I think all tertiary study will bring a level of intellectual struggle and insecurity. Being a human in the world means constant navigation of emotional insecurity, mine and others. However, this year has had an extra added layer of cultural insecurity, mine and others to manoeuvre. If study is a river, this year has been nothing but rapids, fast flowing and unforgiving, and this time there are more rocks to avoid.


These past few months have been strange the world over. In what ways have your life and daily rhythms changed, and what does your new “ordinary” look like?

It has been a gift that my life changed very little in terms of day to day.

The most significant difference was the separation from my older sister, brother-in-law, and nephew. Our whānau very much functions as multiple households but one unit, so not being able to see them for a month was an adjustment. Not being able to see my nephew on his birthday was not great. Cried a lot. Doing better now.

Most of my adjustments haven’t been behavioural. The most important changes in my life, I think, have been changes in perspective. Most significantly, the way I value time, my own and that of others, and time spent. One thing I am trying to do lately, and mostly succeeding in, is not bringing my phone with me when I am going to see someone in person. I’m trying to give the place I’m in my full attention.


What are you grateful for in this season, and why?

This season I’m grateful for my whānau, who are a constant and abundant source of love and wisdom. In a world that appears to change moment by moment, the consistency of my whānau keeps me grounded, gives me confidence, and brings me peace.


What are some opportunities you’ve encountered in this season, and what are some of the challenges?

One of my biggest challenges this year has been understanding my attitudes around language acquisition–my feelings around that journey for myself and others. My incredible counsellor will attest to the fact that it hasn’t been an easy journey thus far, and I have a long way to go. And yes, confronting beliefs and finding their root is an exhausting endeavour, but equally, while there’s lots of scary stuff to walk through, walk past, revisit, and process, the outcome is liberating and life-giving–it’s freedom.

In this process, I have needed Jesus in brand new ways, I’ve seen new facets of him and seen new reflections of him in me. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.


What passages of Scripture have you found helpful and encouraging?

Jeremiah 29:13: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

This verse encourages me to keep seeking him. There is always more to be seen and to be learnt. And I know this to be true because every time I make time for God he shows up, and every time I give him space he fills it.

Psalm 37:4: Make God the utmost delight and pleasure of your life, and he will provide for you what you desire the most.

This gives the planner in me peace. In these times of uncertainty, this verse reminds me that he is my certainty. It helps me re-orientate myself when I start putting too much thought and energy into the desires themselves; it reminds me to turn back to God and delight myself in him. And he, by his goodness and power, will provide for me.


What’s your favourite podcast, movie, and book?

Produced by Te Whare Wānanga o Aotearoa
It hits that wonderful balance I always hope for in a podcast: interesting and informative, but also funny and easy to listen to.

I’ve watched TENET twice in cinemas recently. It’s exactly my genre of movie. I like action, and I like having to think. If I can’t guess the ending, I’m happy. Who better than Chris Nolan to have you confused for two hours or more?

Hare Pota me te Whatu Manapou
By J.K. Rowling, Nā Leon Heketū Blake i whakamāori

I’ve just pre-ordered Hare Pota me te Whatu Manapou, which is the first Harry Potter book translated into te reo Māori. I cannot wait to read it.

(Image: Supplied)